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An LBC Post On The Double - The Value of Newspapers in the Digital Age and Speaking a Second Language

This is a double Loose Bloggers Consortium post. The LBC is the group of bloggers of which I'm a member, which posts weekly on the same topic. I'm going through some major changes in my life lately.  I've made some life changing decisions and the time is coming to implement them or rather, to try to implement them.  So please don't blame me if I've fallen behind in many of my projects - the weekly LBC post being just one of them.  I missed last week's topic but I'm endeavouring to make up for it this week.  Last week's topic, contributed by the wonderful Shackman, was a question.  Are newspapers of any value in the digital age?  This week's topic was contributed by the amazing Old Fossil - Speaking a Second Language.

So are newspapers of any value in the digital age?  My Pavlovian (instinctively reactional) reply would be, yes, they are.  

Mind you, with the speed with which digital news can be served up, stories - often exaggeratedly wrong and one sided stories - can go viral in a matter of minutes.  This can cause needless hysteria.  The recent controversy over Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade is one such story.  Devyani Khobragade, a career diplomat and a member of India's elite foreign service (IFS) was recently accused of visa fraud in the USA.  She brought an Indian woman to the United States to be her personal servant, paying her Indian rates, while having signed a form for the US consular services pledging to pay her servant US rates.  

When I first heard that Devyani Khobragade had been arrested, all but accused of human trafficking, strip searched and thrown in a cell, I was highly indignant.  Especially when I read that she was facing fifteen years in a US prison.  As an Irish person who worked in the Indian Embassy in Dublin for a decade back in the eighties and early nineties, I know that Indian diplomats sometimes need the assistance of India-based servants to help them with representational duties, such as inviting diplomats and members of local society in their host countries to various functions.   They need domestic help with producing their native cuisine etc. The servant's salary is usually paid into a bank account in India and they get bed and board in their boss's house.   Devyani Khobragade's story went viral and  there were protests galore.  Then, at my leisure, I happened to read that apparently, Devyani herself is not exactly India-based.  If what I now read is correct, her husband is a US citizen as are her children.  So although she's been lucky enough to get an India-based job for herself, she's serving India in her husband's country.  He must have a job and has to be earning at US rates.  So where was the need for Devyani Khobragade to get an India-based servant and pay Indian rates? Devyani Khobragade has now returned to India and one would think that now she must be glad to have got away from the danger of fifteen years in jail.  But that's cold comfort considering that her family - husband and children - are US based.  Well, I relocated to India to live with my husband twenty years ago and I'm perfectly sure that Devyani Khobragade's spouse and kids would have a lot less problems than I had coming over here. They are of Indian origin after all.

The hysteria initially surrounding Devyani's story reminds me of the hysteria which surrounded the reportage of the  tragic Savita Halappanavar case, which occurred in Ireland about a year and a half back.  A young Indian woman died in an Irish hospital after having a miscarriage.  Ireland's anti-abortion laws were blamed and Ireland was literally in the international stocks, having insults galore flung at it.  Shame on you, Ireland, the headlines screamed.  Predictably the story went viral and caused me much distress and anguish.  Not that my personal distress and anger is anything very important, of course.  While I know that Ireland has laws banning social abortion, the removal of 'inconvenient' pregnancies, I never thought that the Irish medical services would be so cruel as to deny life saving surgery to a dying woman on religious grounds.  A year and a half later, having read everything I can about the case, I've come to the conclusion I had came to originally - that this tragedy occurred as a result of system failure.  The medical professionals dealing with the unfortunate woman had no idea how ill she was, so they didn't take the necessary steps to save her life in time.  She died of organ failure owing to a bacterial infection. Bacterial infections are really treacherous.  The loss of the life of that woman, as well as the loss of her child, was a terrible tragedy, but the reason for that loss was not, as reported, the denial of life saving surgery to a dying woman on religious grounds. At best, medical ignorance and at worst, medical complacence.  But I'm not going to throw stones at nurses and doctors who work around the clock and save many more lives than they happen to lose. I would be terrified to have the kind of responsibility they have.  

Indian people may find it incredible that you can't just walk into an Irish hospital and demand an abortion just because you feel like it. Irish people may find it equally incredible that in India, if a woman dies within seven years of her marriage, her grieving husband could very well find himself locked up in a prison cell on the say-so of the deceased woman's family.  All such deaths have to be investigated by the police.  The family, grieving from the loss of their beloved daughter, may be furious at the thought that the bereft husband will probably marry again in a few short years and forget their girl and if the girl's family gave the husband property at the time of the wedding, to ensure their daughter's comfort and wellbeing after marriage, well, that's lost to the family forever too. So the girl's husband needs to have a very sound reason to show his in-laws as to why she's no longer in this world.  Being a jailed, bereft spouse isn't restricted to men either.  The woman who irons clothes at a stand on my road was dragged off to jail in front of her children when her estranged husband was found dead recently.  Her in-laws were convinced that she'd had him murdered.  Lucky for her, her landlady could afford to pay for a decent lawyer, otherwise, she'd still be stuck in jail, separated from her young children.

So to conclude my discourse on the relevance of newspapers in the digital age?  Digital newspapers now exist and news can be in your hands, or rather, before your eyes, hot off the presses so to speak, in a matter of minutes. And not always for the better, either, especially where media panic is concerned.   As for print newspapers will always hold a special place in my heart.  Just like the lover of print books says that there's nothing like the feel of a book in your hand, so it is with newspapers.  Maybe future generations will discard the newspaper, but the current generation won't.  That's my opinion anyway. 

The LBC topic for this week, contributed by The Old Fossil,  is speaking a second language.  I'm an English speaker, born and bred.  I learnt Irish at school and know the basics.  I learnt French in secondary school and have a working knowledge of that language.  I'm married to a Hindi speaker and my kids all speak Hindi.  Unfortunately, my Hindi is literally nothing to write home about.  I can certainly get around in Hindi, but apparently my pronunciation and lack of skill  with the language leaves my kids burning with embarrassment.  They literally beg me not to speak Hindi.  Yet, sometimes, when I open my mouth, Hindi, unbidden, comes out, not English.  Arrey, kyaa karoon, yaar? (what the heck can I do?).

Every Friday a half-dozen of us post as members of the Loose Bloggers Consortium, on the same topic simultaneously.  If you wish to check them out, their links are in the sidebar.  My thanks to All-Free Download for the photos.


  1. As I mentioned on Ramana's blog, I love the tactile experience of newspapers and snail mail. But I have to admit that I can afford to read more papers online than I can afford to have delivered to my house. :)

  2. Very interesting and as always well written post! I like being able to read an assortment of online news sites, but I seldom read a print newspaper.

    I would love to be able to speak another language x

  3. Savita died because she was neglected and not given the correct treatment at the time it was needed. There was never any hope of saving her baby.

    That was why I went to the protest march in Belfast. A young woman, the same age as I was when Elly was born, denied all those years of love, never mind her life.

    As for hard copy newspapers. Are they still as dirty as when you were in Ireland? I am talking of real dirt from the printing ink. It is almost as bad as working with cash/coins.

  4. Your posts are always informative and well written Maria.

    I'm with you on holding what I read but … a second language???

    blessings ~ maxi

  5. kya karna? Angrezi bolna bandh kardena aur sirf Hindi bolna. Galat ho ya sahi, thodey din mein theek ho jayega.

  6. I hardly ever read print newspapers. Getting the headlines online is much quicker, but you're right that this rairly gives us enough information to truly know what's going on.

  7. Delirious, I know what you mean.

    Teresa, thank you. You don't need a second language, you're doing brilliantly with your short stories in English.

    Grannymar, I know what you mean about Savita. It was a terrible loss and it was good that you showed support. I just wish the newspaper reportage could have been a bit more factual and less full of hysterical speculation. Medical negligence is a terrible thing and sometimes fatal.

    Maxi, thank you. Putting two topics together can cause confusion.

    Hi Patsy, I do feel that the speed of online headlines has disadvantages as well as disadvantages. Media panic can result in terrible misunderstandings when the correct information is not available.

    Ramana bhaiya, Hindi mere ko nahii accha lag raha hai. Mujhe ehsaas hai mai bilkul bewkoof hoon jab Hindi boolatii hoon.

  8. Grannymar, I try to keep my handling of newspapers to the very minimum. I don't like wrapping food in them either, as some people seem to do here.

  9. Hi Maria. Interesting post as usual. I too prefer print newspapers even though digital ones are more convenient. Unfortunately, there has been a huge deterioration in the quality of reportage in the print media. At least that seems to be the case in India. It seems like they are under pressure to compete with online papers. As a result the focus on "facts" has begun to diminish. Sensational theories, under-researched stories are as much a problem with newspapers as they are with digital ones. Besides, print journalists seem to be getting their "news" from online sources too. Despite all the technological improvements, the reader is being shortchanged.

  10. Adite - that is the absolute truth. The reader is no better informed. Super quick news of deteriorating quality. What's the use of that!

  11. iParrot Post is a global read and reporting news platform that enable users to post their account of events witnessed, worthy local and International news. iParrot Post is a breaking news portal.iParrot Post exists to provide independent news and information to the masses, comprised of news feeds from around the world. We enable our users and subscribers to submit local News that they see as important. It is also a portal to allow users and subscribers to comment and contribute to the News events of the day.
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